Category Archives: Our Story

Riverside Wants To House All Homeless Veterans

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Alicia Robinson and Published in The Press Enterprise on July 19, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

The Riverside apartment David Oakley shares with his girlfriend and their gray cat, Mittens, is a modest one-bedroom with a cramped kitchen, donated furniture and a few framed prints on its off-white walls.

But it’s home, and Oakley is grateful for it.

Before he moved into the apartment seven months ago, Oakley, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, was homeless for about two years.

Having his own place is “like it used to be, it’s the way it should be,” he said, then added, “It’s kind of, to be honest, like a dream come true.”

Oakley is one of several military veterans helped by an ambitious Riverside program that aims to house all of the city’s homeless veterans by the end of this year.

So far, the program, backed by Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, has found homes for 11 veterans. It has 21 more veterans linked with caseworkers to help them apply for benefits and find jobs and apartments.

“It’s inexcusable in my mind to have homeless veterans,” said Bailey, a West Point graduate and Army veteran. “(With) 200,000 veterans in the two-county (Inland) region, we need to lead by example and to take care of our troops.”

The Riverside apartment David Oakley shares with his girlfriend and their gray cat, Mittens, is a modest one-bedroom with a cramped kitchen, donated furniture and a few framed prints on its off-white walls.

But it’s home, and Oakley is grateful for it.

Before he moved into the apartment seven months ago, Oakley, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, was homeless for about two years.

Having his own place is “like it used to be, it’s the way it should be,” he said, then added, “It’s kind of, to be honest, like a dream come true.”

Oakley is one of several military veterans helped by an ambitious Riverside program that aims to house all of the city’s homeless veterans by the end of this year.

So far, the program, backed by Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, has found homes for 11 veterans. It has 21 more veterans linked with caseworkers to help them apply for benefits and find jobs and apartments.

“It’s inexcusable in my mind to have homeless veterans,” said Bailey, a West Point graduate and Army veteran. “(With) 200,000 veterans in the two-county (Inland) region, we need to lead by example and to take care of our troops.”

House Veterans
Riverside is taking part in a federal program that challenges cities to find housing for all homeless military veterans by the end of 2015.

Participants: A total of 709 city, county and state officials have accepted the challenge. Other California cities involved include San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

Progress: In Riverside, housing has been found for 11 veterans, but 44 more still need homes.

Resources: Veterans and their advocates can call the Access Center, 951-715-3434, or visit endhomeless.info. Lighthouse, 951-571-3533, and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Loma Linda, 909-825-7084, also assist homeless veterans.

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Postcard Project Designed to Unite Residents With All Neighborhoods

Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership
Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership

“I love the Wood Streets because of the traditional design and landscape.”  These are the kinds of comments received on postcards written by City residents for the Neighborhood Postcard Project – a global participatory art project that fosters community connection through storytelling exchange.  Residents share personal positive stories about their neighborhood on a postcard and those postcards are delivered to random people in different neighborhoods within the same city.

The Unified City pillar group of Seizing Our Destiny has been collecting these postcards since the NeighborFest event held on May 16th.  The City of Riverside has 26 neighborhoods.  They are being collected two ways:  via a handwritten postcard with a blank space on the back for creativity and through the Seizing our Destiny website.  The ones collected on the website are being shared via social media.

Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership
Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership

The goal of the project is to build community connections, awareness and pride in our local treasures – our neighborhoods.

Postcards are available at various community events throughout the City and on-line at www.SeizingOurDestiny.com/postcard-project/.  For more information about the national project, go to www.neighborhoodpostcardproject.com.

UCR Admits Many First Generation Students

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Bo Kovitz and published in The Press Enterprise on July 2, 2015.)

University of California, Riverside
University of California, Riverside

According to preliminary UC admissions data released Thursday, July 2, 49 percent of new admissions to UCR were first-generation students, compared to 42 percent systemwide.

UCR admitted 19,237 California residents, which had one of the highest rates of resident admissions systemwide, second only to UC Merced.

UCR spokeswoman Kris Lovekin praised the incoming class.

“We know they will be talented and diverse,” she said in a statement. “We serve large numbers of first generation, low-income students — we are at the forefront of America’s race to regain its educational edge and increase economic opportunity and mobility.”

The UC system admitted 92,324 freshmen and 20,921 community college transfer students. UCR admitted 21,582 freshmen, and 5,500 community college transfer students.

UCR admitted 63 percent of community college transfer students who applied, the highest percentage of the nine UC campuses.

About 45 percent of UCR’s new admissions are Asian-American and 32 percent are Latino. UCR admitted 516 more Asian-American freshmen, 377 more Latino freshmen, 75 more African-Americans and 60 more white students than in 2014.

About 42 percent of freshman applicants admitted to UC Riverside were from low-income families, compared to 36 percent across the UC system. UCR’s rate was the second highest, behind UC Merced.

UCR has always been a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. They strive everyday to offer opportunities for people of all cultures, backgrounds, and interests to receive a great education at a great price.

Riverside Box Art Project Uses Historical Art To Enhance A Sense Of Place

(This article contains information accessed from the leadershipriverside2015.com webpage on July 9, 2015.)

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Potential art sample from the Wallace J Miller Collection and Citrus Label Collection contained in the Riverside Public Library Local History Collection

Art and history come together as several utility boxes in the downtown area are “wrapped” with art reproductions from the early 1900s reflecting our singular history. Themes include our citrus heritage, social justice exemplified in the preserving of the Harada House, military history remembered by Camp Anza, the Gage Canal, and Riverside’s thriving business and educational interests. All art work is derived from the Library’s archives. Sponsored by a local business, each box displays a digital code referring the viewer back to our website detailing the background of the historical images represented on each box. Each box displays a small map showing the location of the other box’s in the area. An online map enables virtual and actual walking tours. The exhibit is planned to be unveiled in November 2015—just in time for the Festival of Lights. An inventive addition to this project is the creation of a “how-to manual” for others who may be interested in creating similar thematic box art in Riverside. This project will serve as a 3-year pilot to pave the way for beautiful public art throughout Riverside, enhancing a lasting and attractive sense of place.

Become a sponsor today! Learn How.

Follow the project on Facebook: facebook.com/RiversideBoxArt

Here are some box art samples from other cities:

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Outstanding Riverside Mother Wins Mom Of The Year

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Kathryn Hawkins on April 28, 2010. This article also contains excerpts from the article written by Marina Khidekel and published in Parents Magazine on May 2010.)

Photo Credit: AccessoriesMagazine.com
Photo Credit: AccessoriesMagazine.com

Congratulations to Riversider Jaci Hasemeyer for being selected as MOM OF THE YEAR on the Steve Harvey TV show last week!

About Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer:

In 1996, Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer already had three children, and had believed their family was complete. But when Jaci, a P.E. teacher at a Riverside, California elementary school, handed out coupons for a local skating rink one day, the response she received from a 5th grade boy made her think twice.

The boy, who was a foster child living in a group house, told Jaci that he didn’t need the coupon because he didn’t have anyone to take him skating.

“My heart just broke,” Jaci told Parents Magazine. “I couldn’t stop thinking that we had to do something to help kids like him.”

So Jaci and her family began to look into options, and discovered that there were hundreds of local children in need of a supportive family home. They applied to become a foster family, and in the years since, they’ve opened their home to more than 30 foster children—and have adopted nine of them.

“Our philosophy has always been that if a child is not returned to her parents or relatives or moved elsewhere by the court, then our home would be their final stop, their ‘forever home,’” said Jaci.

But the drive to provide a home to children in need didn’t stop in the Hasemeyer household. When the family’s friends and neighbors became aware of what the Hasemeyers were doing, they, too, were inspired to foster and adopt. Now, 20 families in the Hasemeyers’ neighborhood have adopted 50 children.

The Hasemeyers are committed to helping other families learn about fostering and adoption possibilities, and have dedicated their lives to the movement. Several years ago, Eric quit his job as a stockbroker and went back to school for a master’s in counseling. He now runs a center that serves as an adoption resource for both prospective parents and women who must give up their children.

And in 2006, the Hasemeyers’ oldest daughter, Krista, organized the Walk Your Talk Walk, a fundraising event to raise awareness of foster children. In the first year, the walk raised $1,500, but last year, it collected more than $30,000, and churches throughout Southern California modeled their own fundraisers after the event.

Now that the Hasemeyers have 12 children, it’s a pretty full house. But even though they’re not planning on any more adoptions, they are passionate about helping other families connect with children who need homes.

“Each evening when we look around the dinner table, we come face-to-face with the good that comes of adoption,” Jaci said. “Our kids have added so much to our family, and the simplest message is that everyone can make a difference in the life of a child.”

Interested in learning more about fostering or adopting a child? Check out AdoptUsKids.org or the National Foster Parent Association.

Riversiders commitment to making one another’s lives a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer demonstrate that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

CBU Honors Record 1,420 Graduates During Spring Commencement

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News & Events on May 2, 2015)

commencement photo.jpg
Photo Credit: CBU News & Events

Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, president of California Baptist University, congratulated 1,420 graduating students during afternoon and evening commencement ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Afternoon exercises included 717 traditional undergraduate degree candidates, while the evening ceremony honored 703 students, including all master’s degree candidates, as well as undergraduates from Online and Professional Studies programs.

Ellis noted that the class was part of a record enrollment for the 2014-2015 academic year, with 7,957 enrolled at CBU.

“They have contributed to the continuing growth of CBU’s campus culture as ‘a University Committed to the Great Commission’ during an exciting time of continuing growth and improvement,” Ellis said. “Each of these graduating students has arrived at this point because of a shared commitment to the challenging yet rewarding endeavor of higher education.”

California Baptist University is always expanding and improving in a remarkable fashion.  Representing Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar, CBU’s record number of graduates helps improve the local and global economy and improves our already outstanding quality of life.

Combined with students who graduated last December, the Class of 2015 totals 1,946 applications for graduation, the largest number for a single year in CBU history.

To read the full article, click here.

Kids With Special Needs Get Super Bowl Of Their Own

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the RUSD News on January 29, 2015)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

More than 200 special needs students from across the Riverside Unified School District celebrated Super Bowl Sunday at few days early on Wednesday, Jan. 28 as Poly High School hosted its second annual Super Bowl for Kids event.

This event gave students in kindergarten through sixth grades the opportunity experience the excitement of being part of a high school football team. As students arrived, they ran through a welcoming row of cheerleaders and through the Poly Bear tunnel. The Poly band played the fight song as each student got out on the field, grabbed a football and made a touchdown with help from members of the Poly football team.

And, just like a real game, colorful posters lined the fence near the stands, which were, of course, filled with crowds of cheering fans. Television news crews were on hand to capture all of the action.

Lisa Miller, Special Education Student Advisor at Poly, said the event benefits special needs students by letting them be part of an exciting school activity they might not otherwise be able to participate in. It also helps the high school students learn respect and acceptance of others.

“It puts a smile on my face. It’s just really heartwarming,” noted sophomore quarter back Alec Quintero. “Seeing these kids smile, it’s just a good feeling.”

“This speaks to the spirit of the Poly community and the RUSD community,” added Poly Principal, Dr. Michael Roe.

Miller said Poly is excited to keep the tradition of Super Bowl for Kids going and added that they likely will invite middle and high school students to participate next year.

Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For the complete article, click here.

Riverside’s Little Choir That Could

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Diane A. Rhodes and published in The Press Enterprise on January 18, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

Tenacity. Grit. Determination. Fortitude. The meaning of the words are clear, but how often are these traits demonstrated in real-life situations?

The Hillcrest Show Choir, at Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, is a group of about 100 singers that have sacrificed a lot – collectively and individually – to bring entertainment to others.

When the school opened in the fall of 2012, it did not have a choir. A group of students started a petition to create one. Twenty student signatures were required to have the class considered — all 20 are still part of the choir in its third year.

Getting a choir class approved was just the beginning. Another obstacle in bringing this fine arts course to the school was logistical. With a full slate of academic classes during the day and sports programs after that, there was no time it could be scheduled when interested, but active students could participate. They requested to have it held during “zero” period, from 6:28 to 7:25 a.m. Their persistence paid off and choir members continue to rise to the challenge each morning.

“We are not a show choir by industry standards where we go to competitions and festivals and such,” choir director Beth Schwandt said. “We have a bunch of kids who want to have music in their lives and go out into their community to put on shows.”

Schwandt said one of the Alvord School District’s core values is inclusiveness and she is proud to accomplish this with a choir that does not require an audition to join. As a result, she has attracted an eclectic melting pot of students that grows steadily with each school year. The choir’s inclusiveness is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar, they demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.

“They are a tribute to starting from nothing and fighting to create a culture of well-rounded musicians, athletes, thespians, scholars, volunteers, student leaders and friends,” Schwandt said. “My greatest joy is watching them walk up the stairs to class when it’s still pitch black and freezing cold outside and enjoying that hour together.

To read the full article, click here.